ARTravel: Art, Craft, and Nature in Costa Rica

January 9-19, 2024

BMAC is pleased to offer the only arts-oriented trip to the popular eco-tourism destination of Costa Rica. Our trip will explore the vibrant contemporary arts, crafts, and culinary scenes of Costa Rica’s capital city, and then head into the countryside to sample the natural wonders of the Pacific coast and the cloud forests of the central highlands. This trip is an opportunity to join a small group of like-minded travelers to go beyond the standard tourist itinerary and get to know a bit more about what makes this country, which always rates among the happiest on the planet, tick.

You will have opportunities to interact with artists from the visual and performing arts, collectors, chefs, curators, and students. You will also travel outside the city with one of the country’s foremost naturalist guides and learn about the hundreds of species of animals and plants that populate this bridge between the North and South American continents. You will visit a coffee cooperative and see how Costa Rica’s famed Tarrazu coffee is grown, processed and prepared.

Because the group is limited in size, you will be able to take advantage of opportunities for spontaneous interactions with Ticos, as Costa Ricans call themselves, whose friendliness and good humor is admired worldwide. Whether stopping at a roadside fruit stand or sipping a coffee or fruit smoothie at a simple soda (a small luncheonette-style eatery), these interactions often are trip highlights that result in lasting memories.

Your exploration begins in the capital city of San Jose. Although most tourists spend little time here and head quickly for the beaches or mountains, Chepe, as the city is known to locals, holds many charms just below its busy urban surface. That’s exactly where you will head, with a variety of visits to artists’ studios and galleries, curator-led tours of museums, and talks on Costa Rican art history. You will visit the lovely National Theater for an insider’s tour.

In addition to a full daily schedule of cultural activities, you will delve into San Jose’s blossoming culinary scene, where chefs are putting interesting and tasty spins on traditional Costa Rican ingredients and dishes. A burgeoning craft beer industry has sprung up in the last few years, and  you will have ample opportunities to sample the products of boutique breweries from around the country. And, of course,  you will never be far from delicious fresh fruits, both familiar and exotic.

Next you will venture into the countryside, heading first southwest to the beautiful Pacific coast to enjoy both beach and tropical rain forest activities. Wildlife viewing opportunities abound, and your excellent naturalist guide will do birding walks every morning. A day at a private reserve that protects over 800 acres of forest, mangrove, riverbank, and beachfront will afford opportunities to see parrots, toucans, sloths, monkeys, coatis, and more. A range of activities is on offer, from easy nature walks to more vigorous hikes deeper into the forest, to an exhilarating zip line through the forest canopy. On another day you will hike to a gorgeous waterfall.

From the coast you will then drive north into the mountains and cloud forest, home to the most beautiful of birds, the Resplendent Quetzal, and the most delicious of beverages, Tarrazu coffee. Throughout your stay in these areas of abundant natural wonders there will be ample flexibility in the schedule, so that if you want to do more birding or hiking—or just more relaxing—it’s always possible.

Because the arts calendar is always changing, often at the last minute, some of the visits and experiences may be different from those described here, but rest assured that there will always be interesting and fun activities to fill your days (and sometimes nights).  Our trip leader and local guides are always alert to opportunities for special activities, and accordingly the schedule and specific activities may vary slightly from those described here. Flexibility and a sense of serendipity are always rewarded in travel, and Costa Rica is no exception.

This sample itinerary is abridged from our 2023 trip itinerary. The 2024 trip will be substantially similar.

View photos from the 2023 ARTravel trip to Costa Rica.


Dates: January 9-19, 2024

Price per person: $4,300 for double occupancy (single supplement: $800), includes lodging, ground transportation, local guides and experts, museum entrance fees, most meals, and a tax-deductible donation to the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center. Some independent meals give participants the chance to get a break from the group and sample Costa Rica’s excellent cuisine on their own.

To register: Complete registration form and pay non-refundable deposit of $800 by September 30, 2023. (Early-bird discount: Register by July 31, 2023, and receive a $150 discount.) Balance due by November 15, 2023. Please note: registration is now closed and this trip is fully subscribed. To be added to a waitlist to be notified if a spot becomes available, contact Sarah Weiler at 802-257-0124, ext. 101 or

Space is limited to preserve the intimacy and flexibility of the experience, so we encourage you to reserve your place early.

Getting there: The trip will begin and end in San Jose, Costa Rica, the site of the country’s major international airport (SJO). Participants should try to arrive at SJO no later than 4 p.m. on January 9, and should arrange to fly out of SJO no earlier than the morning of January 19. An ARTravel representative will meet you at the airport in San Jose and take you to your hotel.

Note: Some flights go to Costa Rica’s other international airport in Liberia (LIR), which is several hours’ drive from San Jose and will not be a convenient arrival point for this trip.

Hotels: In San Jose you will stay in a modern, business-oriented hotel on the edge of La Sabana Park. On the Pacific coast you will stay in a four-star tourist hotel with views over the ocean, a pool, and spa. In the highlands you will stay in a simple but comfortable nature lodge in a small mountain town; the hotel’s restaurant specializes in serving fresh trout, which is farmed nearby.

Trip Leader: Ken Klothen is a former member of BMAC’s Board of Trustees and a legal resident of Costa Rica. A retired lawyer and active consultant in medical ethics, Ken has traveled to Costa Rica multiple times per year for the past 30 years. When in Costa Rica, Ken lives in Uvita, in the region of the Pacific coast to be visited on this trip; he loves to show visitors some of the out-of-the-way places in his town to eat, walk, birdwatch, and swim. Having worked in San Jose, Ken is also enthusiastic about introducing visitors to its cultural and culinary delights. He has led trips for family groups to most regions of the country and has also led groups in Ireland, Cuba, Ecuador, Canada, and Germany. Ken is fluent in Spanish.

Trip Guides: For our days and nights in the capital city of San Jose, we will be accompanied by Jimmy Tasso, who has guided this portion of all of our previous trips and whose infectious enthusiasm has energized all our guests. Jimmy is a proud “josefino” (resident of San Jose) and steeped in the city’s history. He is constantly on the lookout for the latest offbeat sites, hip new places to eat or enjoy a cup of coffee, and perhaps best of all little-known detours around the ubiquitous traffic jams. For our time at the coast and in the highlands, we will be joined by Esterling Alfaro, a seasoned naturalist guide who is a resident of Alajuela, a small city in the Central Valley. Esterling is a knowledgeable birder and also always alert to opportunities to introduce travelers to the charms of Costa Rican country life, especially after their stay in the modern bustle of the capital.

Optional Pre-trip Extension: Trip leader Ken Klothen will offer an optional free one-day pre-trip “extension” on January 9 with arrival on January 8. On the morning of the 9th, visit the National Museum, which offers an attractive and informative overview of the development of modern Costa Rican society as well as some excellent pieces of pre-Columbian art and the mysterious stone spheres that played an important role in the spiritual life of the country’s original inhabitants. Then visit a nearby museum and shop, which displays and sells crafts of the several indigenous groups that still live in Costa Rica. Afternoon activities may include a tour of the capital’s vibrant public art, a visit to a striking new “green” building that is situated on the reclaimed bank of the river that meanders through the city (sloth sightings possible), a visit to another of the excellent museums displaying pre-Colombian art and artifacts, or dropping into a shop selling exclusively Costa Rican designed products. Refreshment and meal stops at some of Ken’s favorite coffee shops, lunch spots, ice cream stands, small parks, and ethnic restaurants will be liberally sprinkled throughout the day. There is no extra trip cost for this extension, but participants will be responsible for the additional night in the hotel and their own lunch and dinner. If you would like to join us for this extension, please advise Sarah Weiler so that we can reserve the additional hotel space as soon as possible.

For more information: Contact Sarah Weiler at 802-257-0124, ext. 101 or